PROFILE BY BEST RESTAURANTS
Il Solito Posto means "the usual place" in Italian, and that's exactly what it is for many who work in and around this end of town. The address is Collins Street, but the entry is from the laneway, into an always-bustling and crowded space that is actually much bigger than it seems. Beyond the cafe and wine bar is a more formal restaurant area, but just stepping inside Il Solito Posto makes you feel like you're in an Italian basement. The decor is fairly simple, with timber benches and tabletops, and a few simple food and wine displays.
The cafe/wine bar menu differs greatly from the restaurant. The cafe is an excellent spot for a morning coffee, breakfast and a read of the papers, and is also very popular for a bowl of pasta and glass of wine for lunch or pre-theatre, when seats at the bar are favoured. In the restaurant area, dishes are more formal and prices are higher. There are a few suggested nibbles (scallops and oysters are priced per piece), but some of the items make good shared entrees. Salumi, for example, is a selection of cured meats (capocollo, prosciutto and bresaola) served on a wooden board with tomatoes, pickles and grissini. Main courses tend to the traditional, as in osso buco with a saffron-infused risotto, or steak with mushrooms and red wine sauce. Waiters are professional and helpful. Prices seem on the high side, especially for the wines, of which there are few under $50. However, the list is big and includes a number of blockbuster Australian and Italian reds.